With all of the excitement — not to mention the storm — coming out of Tampa, Florida, this week, MTV News packed up and headed down to the Sunshine State on Tuesday (August 28). We plan to give you a close look at the Republican National Convention. But maybe you aren’t quite sure what to make of the GOP gathering, or just wondering why anyone under the age of 30 should care.
Well, we caught up with a few expert political sources who agreed to help us highlight a few of the RNC details that are most pertinent to young voters: Callie Schweitzer, deputy publisher of Talking Points Memo; Brad Dayspring, senior advisor at the YG Action Fund; and Sarah Parvini, the senior news editor at USC’s student-run Neon Tommy weighed in on the convention, where presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his VP pick, Paul Ryan, are set to accept their party’s nomination.
“It’s a pivotal moment for Mitt Romney to be introduced to the American public outside the political news junkies who follow every step of the campaign,” Talking Points Memo’s Schweitzer said.
While no one is going to be surprised when Romney officially accepts the nom, USC’s Parvini said the level of enthusiasm for the onetime Massachusetts governor has made things more “interesting” than the typical four-day (in this case, three) convention.
“What is interesting to note is that despite Romney’s presumptive nominee status, the party can’t seem to fully throw itself behind him and be gung-ho about his potential presidency — this is why we should care,” Parvini argued. “The party is battling itself, fighting RNC postponement due to [tropical storm] Isaac and dealing with a slew of negative ads and comments that paint their nominee as a cold businessman who is detached from the average Joe. The party needs to band together if it wants to take back the White House.”
There’s also the issue of firming up the differences between the two candidates running for office: Romney and the incumbent, President Obama.
“The convention and the 2012 election come at a pivotal moment,” said Dayspring of YG Action Fund, a super PAC (or Political Action Committee) devoted to supporting conservative candidates. “In just the first 155 days following the election, trillions of dollars’ worth of decisions will be made that will impact every man, woman and child in America.”
Dayspring also touched on the number of young Americans impacted by the economy and poor job prospects. “Many of us with degrees are saddled with enormous debt and watching our friends struggling to find and keep a job. It doesn’t have to be this way,” he said, adding that the RNC will help familiarize voters with Romney’s economic plan to “get America back to work.”
Parvini pointed out that the RNC is an opportunity for Romney to rally Republicans, some of whom threw support behind the more conservative Tea Party movement when they lost faith in how government was working. Moreover, in a tight race, the Michigan-born nominee could use the convention to move the numbers.
“According to the latest Politico poll, 46 percent of those surveyed support Mitt Romney, and 47 percent support Barack Obama,” she said. “If Romney can rally the party, he might have a fighting chance. This is where Paul Ryan comes in. With any luck, the vice presidential pick will be able to rally the conservative, perhaps more radical base, which seems to feel lackluster at best about Romney.
“Romney needs to use these three days of blanket [media] coverage to really throw himself into the campaign and unite the party,” she added.
Another angle to keep an eye on is the ever-increasing influence and use of social media. “I’m excited to see the role that social media plays in the conventions,” Schweitzer remarked. “We had Twitter and Facebook in 2008, but we didn’t have the 20-second news cycle like we do now. It’ll be really interesting to watch the conventions unfold in real time, online.
“From what I’ve read, this convention is supposed to be the ’convention without walls’ because of their use of social media to cover the event,” Parvini told us. “In fact, that’s the name of the official app: Convention Without Walls. You can follow #RNC on Twitter, watch the convention stream on YouTube, or follow on Facebook and Instagram as well.”
The RNC runs through Thursday, August 30. The Democratic National Convention follows shortly thereafter, beginning Tuesday, September 4 and end wrapping on Thursday, September 6.
Check back for coverage on the 2012 election, and stick with Power Of 12 throughout the presidential election season.